Hou Jing - Rebellion Against Eastern Wei

Rebellion Against Eastern Wei

Despite the strong personal relationship between Gao Huan and Hou Jing, however, Hou had little respect for Gao's oldest son and heir apparent Gao Cheng, once making the comment to another friend of his and Gao Huan's, Sima Ziru (司馬子如), that he would remain loyal if Gao Huan were still alive, but that he could not serve together with the "Xianbei boy" (i.e., Gao Cheng) if Gao Huan died. (Gao Huan was ethnically Han, but was acculturated in the Xianbei ways.) In late 546, believing that Gao Huan was dead or near death, Hou began to prepare to rebel, and he did so in spring 547. He first surrendered the 13 provinces that he commanded to Western Wei, but subsequently also surrendered to Liang. Both Western Wei and Liang sent troops to support him. Before Western Wei and Liang troops could arrive, Eastern Wei forces commanded by Han Gui (韓軌) surrounded him at Yinchuan (潁川, in modern Xuchang, Henan). Western Wei forces commanded by Wang Sizheng (王思政) soon arrived, and Han withdrew. Wang, not believing that Hou actually intended to become a loyal Western Wei subject, secured four provinces that Hou was willing to give up control to. Meanwhile, Emperor Wu of Liang was greatly pleased by Hou's surrender, and launched a major attack commanded by his nephew Xiao Yuanming the Marquess of Zhenyang, intending to relieve the pressure on Hou by opening another front to the east. Soon, Yuwen Tai demanded that Hou visit the Western Wei capital Chang'an to pay homage to Emperor Wen of Western Wei, to show his good faith. Hou refused, and he tried to persuade a number of Western Wei generals to join him, but only Ren Yue (任約) did, with a minor army. The rest of the Western Wei forces withdrew their support from Hou and merely defended the provinces that Hou had given up.

Meanwhile, Gao Cheng, pursuant to directions left him by Gao Huan, commissioned Murong Shaozong as the commander of his forces against Hou—a move that caught Hou by surprise, as he was still apprehensive of Murong's abilities and was surprised that Gao Cheng would make Murong his commanding general. At the same time, Xiao Yuanming arrived at Hanshan (含山), near the important city of Pengcheng (彭城, in modern Xuzhou, Jiangsu), putting pressure on the city by damming the Si River (泗水) to cause it to flood against Pengcheng. However, against the advice of the senior general Yang Kan (羊侃), Xiao Yuanming did not quickly siege Pengcheng, but merely waited, pondering his next move. Hou cautioned him against Murong, and also informed him that if he defeated Eastern Wei troops, he should not chase them too hastily, lest that he fall into a trap. He did not heed the warning, and when Murong arrived at Pengcheng, Murong attacked him. The Liang troops were initially successful and quickly forced Eastern Wei forces to retreat, but Murong, anticipating this result, laid a trap, and when Liang troops gave chase, they became trapped and were crushed. Xiao Yuanming was captured.

Having defeated Xiao Yuanming, Murong now turned his attention toward Hou, and he marched toward Chengfu (城父, in modern Bozhou, Anhui), where Hou was. Hou retreated to Woyang (渦陽, in modern Bozhou as well), and the armies faced off against each other. Initially, Hou was successful, forcing Murong's army to flee, but Murong soon regrouped, and the armies' positions stalemated. By the end of 547, Hou's army had run out of food supplies, and one of the generals who first supported him, Sima Shiyun (司馬世雲), surrendered to Murong. In spring 548, Murong made a public announcement to Hou's troops that their families were still safe (Hou had informed them that their families had been slaughtered by Gao Cheng), and Hou's troops, believing Murong, abandoned him. Hou fled with 800 soldiers who were still loyal to him. Murong gave chase, but gave up the chase when Hou reminded him that he himself would be useless if Hou were destroyed. The Liang general Yang Yaren (羊鴉仁), who was holding Xuanhu (懸瓠, in modern Zhumadian, Henan), abandoned Xuanhu. The provinces that Hou controlled were now all lost.

Hou himself considered what his next action would be, and he, under advice from the Liang commander Liu Shenmao (劉神茂), ambushed and seized the Liang acting governor of Southern Yu Province (南豫州, modern central Anhui), Wei An (韋黯), taking control of Southern Yu Province's capital city Shouyang (壽陽, in modern Lu'an, Anhui). He sent an apology to Emperor Wu, and Emperor Wu, not having the heart to rebuke Hou after his defeat, made him the governor of Southern Yu Province without any punishment.

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